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©MT Herzog

I love travelling as much as the next person but traveling during winter from a hot and tropical country to cold and dreary Europe is not easy on the body or the brain. The older I get the more I struggle with long-haul journeys, especially now that the distance involves 14 hour flights. Ugh. My body reminded me rather rudely that long stretches of sitting down are not for me anymore, as my legs and back tend to go into lock-down, not to mention that jetlag is something very real now.

I left a very morose cat in Manila who was not at all thrilled with my departure. She had seen the suitcases being packed, decided to ignore me for the duration of my travel preparations, and summarily snorted at me when I hugged her good-bye. I don’t blame her. If it had been within my power to take her along for this journey I definitely would have, but airlines have issues with all snub nose animals (Persians, Pugs, bulldogs) especially during intercontinental flights. OK, your logical question is “why?” – in case of an emergency and your pet requires oxygen during the flight, the airline cannot give them any because the oxygen masks for pets are all designed for animals with snouts. There is no way you can “hang” an animal oxygen mask on these noseless wonders. Otherwise I would be the first one to carry my Champagne around!

Much to my horror, I had forgotten that the nights are long in Europe during this time of the year. I landed in Amsterdam at 06:45 and it was pitch dark. By the time I retrieved my luggage and made my way to the hotel it was still completely dark and no shimmer of daylight. Geez, I thought I was in the wrong film, not to mention hemisphere or perhaps even dimension. Visions of The Netherlands from last April floated in my mind during which the surrounding fields of Schiphol Airport were bursting with color and a vibrant fresh green. First of all I could barely see the fields this time because it was so dark, and when daylight eventually came around (it took its sweet time, mind you) they were all bare and shrouded in fog.

The seven-hour time difference between Manila and Amsterdam is a drag. I am awake at the oddest times here in Europe, and my body clock is still on Manila time. I have discovered that Netflix is great for those long dark hours when the rest of the European world is still asleep though! If not, then it was back to work. I definitely made full use of the water kettle and instant coffee in the room!

This visit to Amsterdam was not for pleasure, so sightseeing and photography took a backseat this time, a very rare situation for me, but there are looming deadlines to meet that cannot be ignored. Suffice it to say that my Dutch world consisted primarily of my hotel room, the laptop, and a cheerful meeting with a co-author. This was my third failed attempt to explore Amsterdam, but I haven’t lost faith. I’ll get around to it somehow. Someday.

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